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Young New Jersey Members Find Evangelistic Opportunities at Winter Games
Story by New Jersey Conference Staff
Estefanny Llanto (far left), who attends the Paterson Temple church in Paterson, invited five of her high school classmates to pay on her volleyball team for the Winter Games.
During every weekend in January, the New Jersey Conference Youth Department hosted the conference’s first Winter Games with church-organized teams playing volleyball, basketball and soccer. Congregations across New Jersey, divided by conference zones, participated, with the games taking place at three church institutions. The finals took place during the Youth Leadership Convention held at the Tranquil Valley Retreat Center in Tranquility. More than 40 teams registered and enthusiastically played for the trophies.
Conference staff created the Winter Games as a way for church youth to create stronger bonds with their unchurched friends. Consequently, one of the rules was for each team to have at least three members from the community. This gave the youth evangelistic opportunities—to invite their friends to a friendly church activity without the pressure of being in the sanctuary. Leaders offered a devotional and prayer before the games started.
Many youth invited friends and say they had a great time introducing them to church members and sharing Jesus in a very sociable and welcoming environment. Cesar Gonzales, a Passaic I church member, invited three friends to be part of his team. “Sometimes it is hard to invite my friends to come to the church, but to participate in the games my church was promoting was actually very easy,” he noted. “We have the passion for sports in common. All my friends [came] and had a great time!”
Noel Emus (pictured, second from left), from the Maranatha Spanish, invited the friends who have been studying the Bible with him. He says he invited them to the games hoping to strengthen their friendship with other members of his church.
Ruben Arias, invited by an Adventist friend he has known for five years, had never visited an Adventist church. “I love playing soccer, and I love having fun with my friends, so this is a great place to know people. It is like I have known them for a long time,” he said.
New Jersey youth say they look forward to the Summer Games, which will take place in July. More information is coming.
Noel Emus (pictured, second from left)
Cesar Gonzales (pictured, far left)
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